I’m not sure how I missed it, but on Wednesday Opera revealed a new “speed dial” feature that is currently available in their latest weekly release (thanks to XPGeek in our forum for pointing this out!). It’s actually been two-weeks since Opera announced that they were going to offer a unique feature in the next release, but they didn’t want to say what it was. After reading about the Speed Dial feature I felt like I had to give it a try because it sounded really nice.
The whole point of Opera Speed Dial is to make visiting your favorite 9 websites as easy as possible. Instead of opening a blank tab Opera will always show your Speed Dial sites along with corresponding thumbnails (pictured above). That way you can always see what is going on with your favorite sites.
Once you startup the latest weekly build of the browser you need to create a new tab to adjust your Speed Dial sites. Then you can click on any of the blank numbers and select a website from the list of your most frequently visited, or if it’s not listed you can manually enter in a URL. If that still isn’t easy enough for you then maybe you’ll want to drag an open tab onto a Speed Dial slot, which also happens to work.
After you get all of the slots filled that you want to, there are some things you should know that can help you out. First, you can remove any of the thumbnails by right-clicking on them and selecting “Delete” or by pressing the “X” in the upper-right corner. The next thing that you’ll probably find useful is refreshing the thumbnails, and you can refresh all of them by pressing Ctrl+R when viewing the Speed Dial page (you’ll see all of the pages as they load which is super cool). A specific Speed Dial site can be reloaded by right-clicking on the thumbnail and selecting the “Refresh” option.
Opera Speed Dial isn’t just about the thumbnails though, just like a phone you can instantly access your phone numbers thanks to the speed dial feature. To do this in Opera you can press Ctrl+1 to Ctrl+9 to open the corresponding site. I really like having keyboard shortcuts for my favorite sites.
One last thing that I wanted to mention about the new feature is that the search box located above your Speed Dial sites is used the same way as the search box located in the browser. It does not search the content of the sites that are in your Speed Dial list, but is there merely because the most common thing people do when creating a new tab is perform a search. Since Opera has teamed up with Yahoo! on this feature the search box is set to their search service by default, but it can always be changed in the search settings:
While I’m really impressed with this feature, I think the Opera team can take it one step further. They should let users right-click on a folder of bookmarks and have all of those bookmarks shown as thumbnails in a tab similar to Speed Dial. I would also like to see a feature implemented where Opera actually monitors the content of specified Speed Dial sites to notify you when a site has been updated, and then highlighting that thumbnail in the Speed Dial site. Those are the two ideas that initially popped into my head that would make it even more useful for me, but I’m sure most people will like the feature just the way it is.
Don’t be surprised if a Firefox extension emerges that does the same kind of thing. ;)